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History of St. Augustine’s Church 1926 – 2018

Augustine’s Church was erected in 1926 as a mission church of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in nearby Saint John. Bishop EA LeBlanc encouraged the construction on property he had previously purchased because many Saint John families “summered” in the Grand Bay-Westfield area.  The number from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was such that the establishment of a mission church was necessary, both to serve those who regularly attended churches in Saint John and the growing local congregation. The mission church, which was built to seat 200, opened seasonally after schools closed for summer vacation.

St. Augustine’s was a small, simple, gable-roofed church located on a landscaped lot on 279 Nerepis Road. The Gothic Revival architecture featured a circular amber glass window in the centre of the front façade, arch windows, a pointed parapet over the front entrance and returned eaves. It was 48 feet long and 28 feet wide.

St. Augustine of Hippo

The Church is named after St Augustine of Hippo. It is believed that the church was named after him as his Feast Day is August 28th and the first mass at St. Augustine’s was August 29th.

For more information about St. Augustine of Hippo, click the button below:

Milestones

August 29, 1926: Rev. Dr. Ray M. McDonald (later Monsignor) blessed the new church and said the first mass.  

1935: The debt on the original church was liquidated. Excavation began shortly after on a solid foundation which would provide basement space for storage and heating facilities. There was also a new sanctuary and vestry. A new vestibule was also added with the installation of new gothic windows on the front of the church. 

1946: Rev. JD Floyd of the Cathedral performed the first baptism. The child was Ronald Arseneau, son of Alexander Arseneau and Leona Murphy. 

1949: The church loses its mission status and becomes a full-fledged parish with Rev. Dr. Dolan serving until 1952. The parish was expanded past the boundaries of Westfield toward Saint John as far as Belmont and north on Route 102 to Hampstead.

1950: The Parish Rectory was constructed. 

1951: The first confirmation was performed with a total of 18 parishioners.

1956: After the closing of St. Ignatius Parish in Petersville in 1956, the parish also served the areas of Welsford, Wirral, Enniskillen and Hoyt.

1983 The pressure on St Augustine’s 200 capacity church with its expanded boundaries was alleviated with the creation of the new parish of St. Matthews.

2000: Further renovations were completed which included washroom facilities, an expanded entrance and ramps to allow accessibility. 

2018:  St. Augustine’s was closed after merging with St Rose of Lima and St Matthew’s. The parish of the newly merged churches became known as Holy Spirit Parish. 

2019: A closing ceremony and dinner were held at the Westfield Golf course.

2021: The church was demolished. Artifacts were distributed between St Matthew’s and St. Rose.
 
2023: St. Augustine’s Memorial Garden was implemented with a three year plan to completion.

Traditions and Celebrations

It has been explained that following the history of the various anniversary celebrations can be confusing. Some celebrations mark the beginning of St Augustine’s as a mission church while others celebrated the anniversaries of St Augustine’s as a stand-alone Parish. 

These celebrations usually happened very close to the Feast Day of August 28th. The events always started with a special mass with invited dignitaries. Following the mass, would be a cemetery service and presentation. 

The afternoon consisted of games for the children with bingo and card games for the adults. Sometimes there would be a barbeque format and on occasion, there would be a turkey dinner always followed by a celebration cake.  These “Picnic” events were always well attended with guests totaling between 300 and 500 people. 

St. Augustine’s Memorial Garden

A memorial garden was started in 2023 with a three-year implementation plan. This beautiful garden will be located in the site of St. Augustine’s Church. The walkway will be made of stones in the pattern of a Celtic cross. Three large stones representing the Holy Trinity is part of the garden design. The public are sure to continue to enjoy the views of the Saint John River from the benches on the site of the former church. 

Memorial Coin

In 2022, the Town of Grand Bay Westfield created a memorial coin commemorating the Church with a picture of the church, complete with its famous red roof.   Below is a bulletin notice from May 22, 2022. 

St. Augustine’s Cemetery

 

Priests who Served at St Augustine’s

1949 – 1953 Rev. Dr Dolan

1953 – 1955 Rev. John Coughlan

1955 – 1967 Rev. AE Butler

1967 – 1981 Rev. Joseph E Whelly (Chaplain with the Maritime Naval Command)

1985 – 1989  Rev. Michael LeBlanc (Assistant Pastor)

1981 – 1989 Rev. John Fraser 

1989 – 1992  Rev. John Glaspy

1992-  1996  Rev William Weiss

1996-2000  Rev Don Breen

2000-2011  Rev Dr Brian Hansen

2011-2018   Rev David Martin

History of St. Brendan’s 1909 – 2016

St. Brendan’s in Dipper Harbour opened for its first Mass in 1909. The church was towered by a 55-foot steeple topped with a five-foot cross that was a marker for the community. As Fishing was the main source of income in the community, the name Saint Brendan, Patron Saint of Fishermen, was chosen for the church. Above is a painting of St. Brendan that is displayed in the worship site of St. Rose of Lima.

For more information about St. Brendan click the button below

Dipper Harbour is a small fishing community about 45 Km from Saint John. Until the early 1900s, there was no church in the community, and Masses were held in the homes of the Faithful in Chance Harbour and Dipper Harbour. The Priest from Saint John would arrive by train, carrying with him the Altar Stone.

The first person to suggest a permanent church was Mrs. Lucy Boyle, the proprietress of a bakery on St Jame’s Street, in the city of Saint John. Lucy was a devout Catholic and convinced her parish priest in Saint John to help with the plans; assurance that the Diocese would incur no financial commitments, plans proceeded.

Land was donated by Mrs. Boyle, from a parcel given to her son, Peter Boyle, by Charles Devine, her father, with sponsorship from the Most Reverend Timothy Casey, and Very Reverend W.F. Chapman. The ground was Consecrated by the Bishop and the Church had it’s beginning.

The first fundraiser was a community dance, held on the wharf, with tarps erected so that, even in the event of rain, the fundraiser would not be called off, and $50 was raised, so construction could begin. Plans were made, a concrete foundation laid, and lumber brought in by sailing vessel, with Captain Jim O’Donnell of the Schooner Ruby in charge, and who later delivered the Altar. Parishioners donated their time in the effort, under the management of Dave Mawhinney of Mace’s Bay.

In 1939, Stella Maris Church of Black’s Harbour, St Elizabeth’s of Musquash, and St Brendan’s, united to form a new parish, with its parochial residence at Black’s Harbour.

In 1986, St Brendan’s, a little church of approximately 65 families, became a mission church of St Rose of Lima in Saint John. 

In 2016 the last service was held at St. Brendan’s.  

In 2018 St Rose of Lima, and St Matthew’s became Holy Spirit Parish.  

In 2022 St. Brendan’s Mission Church was demolished and the artifacts were given to Holy Spirit Parish.

Below is the notice posted in the Jan 31, 2021 Holy Spirit Parish Bulletin 

Memorial of St. Brendan’s

The Legacy of St Brendan’s will live on, plans for a memorial erected near the Cemetery will be implemented in the near future.

St. Brendan’s Cemetery

This cemetery is located on the property of the former St. Brendan’s Church. There are still plots available.